Cook the Book!
Updated: May 2, 2018
I hosted my first cookbook club a few weeks ago, taking inspiration from an article by Tara Austen Weaver entitled 'Why Cookbook Clubs Should Be the New Way to Entertain'. In the United Kingdom this seems a new venture to many people, in fact one women who attended said she told her son what she was up to that evening and he stated that was 'weird'. In America this would be a perfectly normal gathering, so I intended to try it out here and see what happened. Here's my story.
In her article, Tara writes, "The idea behind Cookbook Club is a simple one – a group of friends all make recipes from the same book and gather to share the results, a crowd-sourced feast. But there's a bit of magic to Cookbook Club that I didn't anticipate when I attended my first meeting."
However strange the concept might feel in the United Kingdom, I could see how this phenomenon would create a practical and inspirational environment where like-minded individuals could experiment and bond over cooking. After all that is one of my goals for Kindred Suppers – to inspire others to cook more and share it with others.
A fellow supper club enthusiast enabled us to use her home for the first planning meeting and has lovingly calling it Cook the Book! I have to say the name stuck ever since. Together we shared dinner with five other women and talked about what food meant to us, either as a handed down family trait or as a passion that grew in our older years. Although many in the world see cooking as a chore or effort, these women all agreed that it was a powerful therapeutic act, either in cooking or eating the result.
What I learned is that we all have a connection and that it still needs to be nurtured. Cooking is such a universal medium, and, though opinions may be divided, continues to be a sure conversation starter in any given environment. Perhaps to some it's a hobby, but the idea of eliminating it from the home and choosing to rely on 'industrial' food is a scary thought. Many of us still rely on cooking as a vital skill and joy to our lives. In sacrificing our nutrition and well being, we're only succumbing to something called instant gratification in the idea of faster, and less wholesome 'food'. So what's next and how can we help?
My rationale behind creating this club is that, although cooking may be on the decline, there are still little rays of hope in kitchens across the world. Even in this modern and more digital age, we're still seeing cookbooks thriving in print. Clearly there's something about owning a physical copy of recipes. I know that's still true for me. It also tell us what we value as a culture, a cookbook is still a permanent and physical object that can be handed down from generation to generation. Sally Ekus, a culinary literary agent says this of cookbooks: "Cookbooks have to offer more than just recipes since anyone can get a recipe online. In many ways they have become big, beautiful story books... They are showpieces that are paying homage to a cuisine or place or an ingredient... collectors' pieces to cook and love and imprint on."
Before our meeting I had asked everyone to bring their favourite cookbook along, and I was amazed at the dedication these women made. Most of them didn't bring one, but a whole bag full! Clearly to them the physical cookbook was a journey that they could participate in through flavours and places, something they could bring into their homes with love. I was excited in seeing their enthusiasm and knew this was the start of something truly inspiring.
Everyone really does need a cookbook club.
Through our bonding we get to share a part of ourselves, and in addition get to taste a multitude of dishes, all made at home. It's about sharing, community and aspiring to use cooking as an art form as well as a daily need. Together we're re-establishing an important relationship with food and looking after our health by knowing what we're putting into each and every dish.
It's about experiencing successes (or failures) as we cook from a different cookbook each month. After all it's just as much about participation as it is education– we're all in it for the collaboration and what we get out food-wise is an added bonus.
It wasn't just myself that got excited about this new venture, it was the women who came who felt that way too! I was amazed by their responses to the evening – the scope of the books everyone brought and the stories behind each choice, as well as the sense of togetherness in our objective and in sharing food with the group. I couldn't have asked for a better night!
Want to join us? We'd love to have you along for the ride! It's our hope to have these cookbook clubs regularly. If you're interested in joining (and know some others that would be too) and are located within the Lancashire, UK area, then get in touch via our Contact Page and we'll get talking.